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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Encore Loches

Saturday night, we had a wonderful dinner of leftovers from the Saturday night meal I was supposed to have been there for. Then, to sleep in a comfortable bed in a beautiful room in an the ancient house of an old friend. I slept long and well.

Sunday morning, after a typical French breakfast of bread, jam, and coffee( which I began to drink again after a several year hiatus) Marie took me on a tour of the old town of Loches, ie buildings dating from the 10th rather than the 15th century, before heading out to Tours airport, a small place with as many 4 seaters as commercial planes, to pick up Marie's daughter and her 10 year old son, Marie's grandson John. The last time I'd seen Zoe she was a little girl, now she is in her thirties. They had flown in from England, where they live, for a visit.

We went into old Tours to take a look around and get a bite to eat at Marie's favorite Lebanese restaurant. I had curried chicken, good but surprisingly mild. Marie said the French don't like spicy food and so the restaurants with normally spicy cuisines really turn down the heat.

Marie had phoned her friend Mimi to see if she was up for visitors, but before we got there we stumbled upon a combination garlic festival/ flea market which we browsed through first. There were stalls upon stalls of folks selling garlic, also leeks, shallots, and onions, and also lots of stands with tables of people, locals all I would guess, eating steak and frites, the ubiquitous French meal. With garlic? I didn't find out but took lots of photos of venders and shoppers with garlic.

We then proceded to Mimi's. She lives in a section of an old cloister that has been converted into apartments. The cloister itself is white and quiet with an austere beauty. Mimi's apt was quite the opposite, a tiny place with every corner crammed with colorful items, a multicolored chandelier, the likes of which I've never seen, large and small cabinets with drawers holding who knows what. It absolutely puts my place to shame, There were also three, or was it four, cats; I lost count. Mimi is recovering from cancer, seemed tired and gaunt, but Marie says she is much better than she had been. Mimi is a painter, of watercolors. She took down a small vintage suitcase from a pile atop a silver painted, Egyptian looking cabinet, in which she had a number of small works. We browsed thru them and I wanted to buy one, but Mimi insisted on giving me one as a gift. She gave one to Marie and Tim, and one to Zoe and John, as well. Tim showed me one of his paintings on the wall in the miniscule kitchen. They have known each other since Mimi and Marie's children were small.

We then left Mimi and Tours, having to head back to Loches, a 40 minute drive, in order for me to pick up my things at the house and head to the Loches station to get my train back to Tours, and then on to Paris. Not very good planning, but no one seemed to mind.

It's amazing how much we were able to fit into a short, and truncated at that, overnight visit. And I got to meet two of Marie's siblings, her nephew, sister in law, cousins, friend, grandson, re meet an adult Zoe, see Mont Felix and do a bit of landscaping, as well as walk through the family land and see three properties I hadn't ever known were part of the estate. Plus see some of beautful old Tours and delightful, not yet overtouristed, Loches. Intermixed with some wonderful French cooking and some Lebanese, topped off by a garlic festival! Not to mention the best of all, the delight and pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend.

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